≡ Menu

How To Book a European Car From The US and Not Get Ripped Off

I am thoroughly tired of booking my UK and European rental cars through Expedia and the other US travel portals. Here’s my tip to avoid getting ripped off.

I remember it well. Arriving after two flights and a sleepless night with one delay with a toddler and all our luggage for a six week trip. Bright and early – actually a little later than planned – at London Heathrow. We located the shuttle bus for the car rental firm we had booked on Expedia, and got off the bus where directed. And then I had to drag the unwieldy luggage and the recalcitrant toddler to the far edge of the parking lot to the tiny hut. No matter, we would soon be in a car, on the way to friends, sleep and help.

The car rental attendant was less than helpful and explained that we weren’t on his list. I didn’t have a voucher with me. I was tired, pitiful looking. Could he help? He checked his list again. I wasn’t on it. Could I rent a car anyway – I have passports, money, credit cards, whatever you need? No sir. Please? No, you’re not on the list.

I vowed never to use Expedia again, and then went off to Hertz to get a car from them direct. A few months later, I was in a rush when my plans changed, and due to the Olympics being in London, I ended up using Expedia again. The minimum liability coverage was included – I booked on the US site. Imagine my surprise at the airport when the desk clerk at the rental agency explained that minimum liability coverage wasn’t included, and that if you book on the US site, they lie to you about that. I’m all for internet booking, don’t get me wrong, but this just seemed like baloney. Her supervisor concurred – I had been ripped off.

Fast forward a year, and I’m off to Spain – renting a car for three weeks. Really this time, I refuse to use Expedia. I research car rentals for hours using different sites, seeing which deals they offer. After all, over three weeks this could amount to a bunch of savings. And I notice one thing. Some of the major sites don’t carry the local European car rental agencies. How odd. And they don’t offer the best deals. The site I found most useful was RentalCars.com. They ended up giving the best price, and when I got to the actual rental firm – there were no surprises. In fact, my toddler slept through the whole transaction – which might be unrelated, but definitely gave me a good vibe about the place.

To avoid getting ripped off or not having a reservation, I recommend using RentalCars.com.

 Car rentals in over 6000 locations worldwide